’Jackets ready for state cross country

JAY W. BENNETT The Marietta Times Williamstown senior Kasey McNamara will make her final appearance Saturday at the state cross country meet at Cabell Midland high school.

WILLIAMSTOWN — The Little Kanawha Conference should stand tall again come Saturday at Cabell Midland High School when the dust, or mud, settles on the Class AA/A state cross country championships.

For the second time ever, a single-A boys and girls state team champion and runner-up will be crowned. Last year, the LKC claimed both titles thanks to the boys from St. Marys and the Doddridge County girls.

The Bulldogs are led by Region II champion Desirae Schoonover and are picked to finish second by runwv.com in the single-A standings behind LKC champ Williamstown. The junior Schoonover, who is projected to finish sixth and two spots back of Williamstown freshman Ella Hesson — the Region IV champion — is a two-time all-stater after placing third as a freshman and seventh as a sophomore.

“The momentum started right there before the LKC,” admitted WHS girls head coach Larry Cassady. “We started out with a plan at the beginning of the year and everything seems to be falling into place.

“We’re excited and they are excited. We’ve had good support from the parents and the community. They are ready and I think they know what lies ahead of them Saturday.”

Senior Yellowjacket Kasey McNamara is projected to be just outside the all-state top 10, but coach Cassady is hopeful.

“She knows the difference between running and racing and that’s where her experience is going to come in,” said the coach. “She’s right there in amongst the best and she’s ran there before.”

Cassady, who expects to also run seniors Ivy Linger and Bethany Wager, junior Carsen Hesson and ninth-graders Emilee Wilson and Stella Flanagin, credited his youth with helping the team to a solid campaign, which included finishing runner-up at the regional.

“Ella and Stella and Emilee, those freshmen that came up they were all leaders last year in the middle school,” Cassady added. “They carried that role right over into high school. They all listen to each other.

“They got great work ethic and they knew what we wanted at the start of the year and they just took right over. Doddridge County and Charleston Catholic, both of those teams are good, and they could be right there.”

In the single-A boys team race, Doddridge County is expected to hold off Ravenswood for the team title.

Top-ranked Ritchie County, which is sending junior Jarett Allender, failed to qualify out of a tough regional as all single-A programs must advance against Class AA competition.

St. Marys’ Brady Gorrell, who is projected as the state runner-up, will join Walker Hashman as the Blue Devils’ only runners. Hashman was an all-stater last year after placing 10th and is predicted to cross the finish line in ninth.

The Bulldog boys are led by Carter Lipscomb and Brennan Gum, who finished fourth and six, respectively, in the regional.

Ravenswood junior Bryce Jarrell, who is picked to finish sixth, has finished 12th and 13th at state in his first two attempts. Not only is he hoping to help the Red Devils bring some team hardware back to Jackson County, but twin brother Blake Jarrell is predicted to come in 11th.

The Williamstown boys also could make some noise Saturday. At the regional, the ‘Jackets were paced by a ninth-place effort from freshman Colin Beck, who was followed in 10th by sophomore teammate Ethan Beck. Parkersburg Catholic, which had top regional finishes by Cole Terosky (11th) and Jonathan Kammerer (12th), also qualified as a team.

Also hoping to make a push toward the top 10 and all-state honors is Tyler Consolidated freshman Spencer Corley, who is projected to finish 16th. Ritchie County’s Gwyn Napier is also predicted to finish in the same position in the girls race, which starts at 1 p.m. with the boys gun going off at 1:45 p.m.